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First time trip to CR- 10 days- where to go and stay?

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
48 posts
First time trip to CR- 10 days- where to go and stay?

Hello,

i'm thinking of coming to Costa Rica this spring for 10 days. I was thinking of doing an all-inclusive, but also was considering doing air and hotels separately. I have never been to CR, so any advice on where to stay (especially if not doing all inclusive) and what to do would be great! I don't want to be doing a ton of commuting, definitely need down time. thanks!

Canada
Level Contributor
366 posts
18 reviews
1. Re: First time trip to CR- 10 days- where to go and stay?

Hello fellow Vancouverite! If you are just looking for a beach, any of the AI's in the Guanacaste area will probably do the trick. You might want to look into the areas of Playa Flamingo, the gulf of Papagayo, Tamarindo. Do you have specific criteria that you are looking for? Excursions, night life etc?

If you want to get out of the AI world, there's tons of options for nice lodges and small hotels that would give you a more unique Costa Rica experience, it just depends on what your interests are and what you'd like to do and see.

Edited: 2:50 pm, January 27, 2014
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Destination Expert
for Richmond
Level Contributor
1,736 posts
217 reviews
2. Re: First time trip to CR- 10 days- where to go and stay?

In my opinion (and many other's) going the All Inclusive route in Costa Rica really limits you.

Costa Rica isn't about All Inclusives like Mexico or Jamaica is. It's about nature, exploring, animals, waterfalls, beaches, surfing, etc. Staying at an All Inclusive limits where you can stay and what you can do. It also takes away from experiencing everything Costa Rica has to offer.

I HIGHLY recommend you don't go the AI route. You can save a lot of money by booking your own hotel and airfare, and planning your own trip... and with the help of TripAdvisor, it is also EASY!

There are TONS of amazing non-AI hotels, and also tons of house and villa rentals which can be anything from a 1 bedroom beach shack, to a 20 bedroom mansion. You can also easily hire a cook and that will give you somewhat of an AI feel of not having to worry about dinner. However, eating out in Costa Rica is half the fun!

Tell us more about your interests and we can point you in the right direction. Do you like animals, nature, beaches, mountains, fishing, hiking, relaxing, exploring, etc? What are you priorities? See animals, Go surfing, etc.

Let us know!

Also, you can start your own research on Costa Rica by going here: http://www.anywherecostarica.com/

That will give you a rundown on the regions, and possible destinations.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
48 posts
3. Re: First time trip to CR- 10 days- where to go and stay?

Hi Thanks for your reply. I was thinking of a few adventure days in the Arenal and Monteverde area. Have you been up there? Do you need a couple days in each? And then a good 6 days on the beach somewhere. Maybe Manual Antonio? I think that skipping the AI is probably the way to go! thanks again

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Destination Expert
for Richmond
Level Contributor
1,736 posts
217 reviews
4. Re: First time trip to CR- 10 days- where to go and stay?

That would be a good trip, IMO.

A few days in Arenal, a few days in Monteverde, and the home stretch at a beach town like Manuel Antonio.

Arenal and Manuel Antonio are VERY popular destinations. They are a bit more touristy than other areas, but it is like that for a reason- they have a LOT to offer. Personally, I recommend Manuel Antonio for first timers because it has everything in a compact area, and it is close driving distance to nearby Dominical. Manuel Antonio has great beaches, tons of animals (monkeys, sloths, toucans, iquanas, birds, frogs, etc), tons of restaurants, open air bars to grab a drink and watch the sunset, excellent fishing out of Quepos, easy access to excurions (ziplines, waterfalls, etc)... and it's all packed in a very condensed area for easy access. Manuel Antonio National Park has likely the best relaxing and swimming beaches in Costa Rica, and the "Best Beach in Central America" per Trip Advisor (Playa Manuel Antonio).

I am sure you will get other suggestions, but I will recommend the Arenal, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio trio.

One thing to remember is that if your flight arrives late, or departs early, you may need to stay the night near the airport, especially if you plan on renting a vehicle and driving yourself. So, that could limit the total number of days you have planned... so maybe 2 days Arenal, 2 Days Monteverde, and 4 days Manuel Antonio.

Canada
Level Contributor
366 posts
18 reviews
5. Re: First time trip to CR- 10 days- where to go and stay?

Flying from Vancouver to CR is a bit tricky, the popular hubs are through Dallas, Houston or Miami. So far we've found the Houston route to be the best with United. On our last trip, we were actually able to book both our departure and return connections so we did not have to overnight. On our other trips we had to overnight in Dallas which is a waste of vacation days. United goes to both Liberia and SJO airports.

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Destination Expert
for Richmond
Level Contributor
1,736 posts
217 reviews
6. Re: First time trip to CR- 10 days- where to go and stay?

To avoid having to stay the night in Alajuela/SJO, GENERALLY you want your arrival flight to land BEFORE 1:30pm and your departure flight to leave AFTER 1:30pm.

That's a GENERAL rule you can go by, and there can definitely be exceptions...

Basically, you don't want to drive in the dark after arrival, and you don't want to miss your departure flight on the way out. Driving in Costa Rica takes longer than you would expect... especially for new comers.

7. Re: First time trip to CR- 10 days- where to go and stay?

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